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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.19
Liaison Justin Mog
Submission Date Feb. 13, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

University of Louisville
AC-8: Campus as a Living Laboratory

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.60 / 4.00 Justin Mog
Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability Initiatives
Office of the Provost
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Is the institution utilizing the campus as a living laboratory for multidisciplinary student learning and applied research in the following areas?:
Yes or No
Air & Climate No
Buildings Yes
Dining Services/Food Yes
Energy Yes
Grounds Yes
Purchasing No
Transportation Yes
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability Yes
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment No
Public Engagement No
Other No

A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Air & Climate and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Buildings and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

PASSIVE SOLAR TEST FACILITY: We are investigating renewable energy options to passively heat & cool UofL buildings. At Burhans Hall on our Shelby campus, in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium, UofL's Renewable Energy Applications Laboratory (REAL) installed an experimental solar heat pipe wall for indoor climate control that may prove to be twice as efficient as other solar systems in places such as Louisville with moderate sun and cold winters. In 2011, the system was moved for further experimentation and monitoring to a new Passive Solar Test Facility constructed at the Speed School of Engineering at the Brook Street railroad fly-over, just south of Eastern Pkwy. This is the only such device of its kind in the world. The walls, floor and roof are built with structural insulated panels (SIP’s). The building is divided into two rooms with an insulated interior wall to allow side-by-side testing of two systems. Currently installed are two solar heat pipe systems, which produce net heat gains approximately twice as large as typical direct gain systems. Heating performance of these two prototypes has been compared, and strategies for reducing unwanted gains during the summer have also been tested. These experiments were funded by the Department of Energy, and are reported in the following articles:
1. Robinson BS & Sharp MK, “Reducing unwanted gains during the cooling season for a solar heat pipe system,” Solar Energy 115:16-32, 2015.
2. Robinson BS & Sharp MK, “Heating season performance improvements for a solar heat pipe system,” Solar Energy 110:39-49, 2014.
3. Robinson BS, Chmielewski NE, Knox Kelecy A, Brehob EG, Sharp MK, “Heating season performance of a full-scale heat pipe assisted solar wall,” Solar Energy 87:76–83, 2013.

THE PHOENIX HOUSE: UofL Civil Engineering professor W. Mark McGinley, who led the University of Louisville/Ball State University team for the 2013 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, has involved his team of students, staff, and faculty in reconfiguring the student-built “Phoenix House” into the new administrative offices for UofL's Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. The Phoenix House serves as a living laboratory for projects on solar, energy storage, geothermal systems, and building envelope studies to continually develop data toward smart and energy efficient homes.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Dining Services/Food and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

REAL FOOD CHALLENGE: In fall 2013, students in Anthropology Professor Jeneen Wiche's ANTH 352 - Food & Body Politic class explored the emerging campaign of the Real Food Challenge and its applicability to UofL. The students were instrumental in getting UofL to sign onto the Real Food Challenge that semester. In spring 2014, the Antropology Department sponsored an independent study course in which students worked with Professor Wiche and UofL Dining Services staff to conduct the university’s first audit using the Real Food Challenge calculator. It was decided to audit Dining Services food procurement for the months of September 2013 and February 2014 so as to capture one month in which it is relatively easy to buy local and one month with less local food availability. Food procurement invoices were gathered for select dining facilities (Cardinal Burger Company, The Ville Grill, and Garden Toss) and students got hands-on learning experience in the process of entering the line-items of food into the RFC calculator. Once the information is entered, students did research to evaluate what qualifies as “real food” based on the national criteria (see http://www.realfoodchallenge.org), including terms such as real, humane, local, sustainable, worker friendly, etc. In addition, students took two field trips to explore the local food system: a tour of Creation Gardens at the produce terminal in Louisville and another at Gallrein Farm in Bagdad, KY. This campus as a living lab initiative got the university started on an on-going process of transforming Dining Services procurement to be better aligned with the goals of the Real Food Challenge. In the 2015-16 academic year, the on-campus Real Food Challenge has taken on a more student-led approach, including demands for more stringent sustainable procurement and living wage requirements in the new Dining Services contract that the university is currently negotiating.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Energy and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

DUAL-AXIS SOLAR ARRAY: The computer controlled dual-axis tracking solar array on Sackett Hall at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering produces both electricity (2 kW) and hot water for the building. It is the only such tracking array in Kentucky, and is intended for research, development and education, while supplying a portion of the building's electricity and hot water. Because it is able to track the sun precisely throughout the day and across the seasons, it is 30% more efficient than fixed solar panels. The two solar thermal collectors in the center of the array provide nearly 100% of the building's hot water in the summer, and ten photovoltaic panels feed enough electricity into the grid to power the building's computer laboratory. Real-time data on how much energy the system is capturing is available on a monitor inside the building and online at http://louisville.edu/speed/ulrec/current-data-acquisition.html#documentContent

STUDENT-BUILT SOLAR: In May 2012, students in UofL's Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Club, designed, constructed and installed low-cost 120-watt solar panels at the Garden Commons to power the ventilation system for the new greenhouse. Read more about the project: http://louisville.edu/uofltoday/campus-news/green-scene-students-make-it-happen-with-low-cost-solar

THE PHOENIX HOUSE: UofL Civil Engineering professor W. Mark McGinley, who led the University of Louisville/Ball State University team for the 2013 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon competition, has involved his team of students, staff, and faculty in reconfiguring the student-built “Phoenix House” into the new administrative offices for UofL's Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. The Phoenix House serves as a living laboratory for projects on solar, energy storage, geothermal systems, and building envelope studies to continually develop data toward smart and energy efficient homes.

PASSIVE SOLAR TEST FACILITY: We are investigating renewable energy options to passively heat & cool UofL buildings. At Burhans Hall on our Shelby campus, in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium, UofL's Renewable Energy Applications Laboratory (REAL) installed an experimental solar heat pipe wall for indoor climate control that may prove to be twice as efficient as other solar systems in places such as Louisville with moderate sun and cold winters. In 2011, the system was moved for further experimentation and monitoring to a new Passive Solar Test Facility constructed at the Speed School of Engineering at the Brook Street railroad fly-over, just south of Eastern Pkwy. This is the only such device of its kind in the world. The walls, floor and roof are built with structural insulated panels (SIP’s). The building is divided into two rooms with an insulated interior wall to allow side-by-side testing of two systems. Currently installed are two solar heat pipe systems, which produce net heat gains approximately twice as large as typical direct gain systems. Heating performance of these two prototypes has been compared, and strategies for reducing unwanted gains during the summer have also been tested. These experiments were funded by the Department of Energy, and are reported in the following articles:
1. Robinson BS & Sharp MK, “Reducing unwanted gains during the cooling season for a solar heat pipe system,” Solar Energy 115:16-32, 2015.
2. Robinson BS & Sharp MK, “Heating season performance improvements for a solar heat pipe system,” Solar Energy 110:39-49, 2014.
3. Robinson BS, Chmielewski NE, Knox Kelecy A, Brehob EG, Sharp MK, “Heating season performance of a full-scale heat pipe assisted solar wall,” Solar Energy 87:76–83, 2013.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Grounds and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

MAPLE-TAPPING: In spring 2016, 33 non-science-major students in a new Sustainable Community Engagement section of BIOL 104-15 - Laboratory for Introduction to Biological Systems (Thursdays 9:30am-11:20am) run by Professor Linda Fuselier tapped maple trees on campus to gather sap for syrup and learn about the process and study the environmental conditions that influence it. The maple trees on campus had never been tapped before, so students, faculty and staff were involved in learning about a new urban agroforestry resource on campus. The students split into eight groups to design experiments and gather data while collecting the sap. The sap will be processed into syrup by a community-partner who operates an artisanal sugar shack in Lyndon. Students are invited to an optional field trip out to the sugar shack in March. In April, the students will be required to present the results of their studies to the university community at the April 12th University Wide Undergraduate Research and Community Engagement Symposium and the Sustainability Council’s meetings on April 15th: EcoReps Lunch & Learn Workshop; and Engagement Committee meeting. The workshop will serve as a Pancake Party for everyone to enjoy some of the UofL syrup!

NATIVE PLANT GARDEN: In Spring 2016, the Biology Department coordinated with the Grounds crew to remove an unused lawn area next to the Life Sciences building and replace it with a native plant living lab. The garden will serve a number of our Biology labs by having on-campus access to native plants as well as the insects such plants would attract. A number of our courses will benefit from having such an area including Entomology (for the insects), Plant Taxonomy, Medicinal Plant Biochemistry, Ecology, and perhaps Animal Behavior. The garden will also engage donors and participation from the Beechmont Garden Club as well as Botanica.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Purchasing and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Transportation and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

LONGITUDINAL UofL COMMUTER SURVEY: Since 2010, graduate students and faculty in the Department of Urban & Public Affairs have collaborated with staff from Sustainability (Provost's Office), Institutional Research, and Parking and Transportation Services to design and implement an on-going longitudinal study of the commuting habits and attitudes of UofL students, faculty and staff. Students in Professor John Gilderbloom's spring 2010 course UPA 680-01 URBAN RESEARCH SEMINAR were involved in designing and pre-testing the initial survey instrument administered by Institutional Research. Questions explored not only commuting habits by demographics, but willingness to consider alternative modes and barriers to their use. Graduate students took the lead in analyzing the resulting data which was used to set a baseline for the Sustainability Council's effort to document greenhouse gas emissions and to develop a plan to reduce vehicle miles traveled to campus. In fall 2012, the Sustainability Council launched a full suite of transportation alternatives (free bikeshare, Earn-A-Bike, carpool matching, and carshare in addition to free transit). The impact of these new programs was assessed by a follow-up survey conducted in spring 2013. This survey was also a collaboration between staff in university administration and Urban & Public Affairs professor Frank Goetzke (serving as Principle Investigator) and graduate research assistants who again helped revise and pre-test the survey instrument and analyze the data. A third follow-up survey in the longitudinal study was conducted in fall 2015, with Urban & Public Affairs professor Dave Simpson serving as Principle Investigator and graduate research assistants again involved in revising and pre-test the survey instrument and analyzing the data. The longitudinal study has been pivotal to informing the Sustainability Council's on-going work to provide a full suite of transportation alternatives that meet the needs of our evolving campus population. We have been successful in reducing vehicle miles traveled and shifting the mode share in both the student and employee populations.

STUDENTS PRODUCING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVING LOCAL TRANSIT:
- FALL 2015 UPA 680-76 Special Topics: Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
At the request of TARC (Transit Authority of River City), UofL students worked on a group final project to produce recommendations for improving local transit with a final presentation, 30-page report and discussion with TARC staff. Report: Social Sustainability Guidelines and Metrics for Transportation in Louisville: A Proposal for TARC's APTA Sustainability Commitment
Authors: Ariel E. Weaver, Peter Williams, Nathan Wright, Ashley Woolsey, and Erin Yenney
- SPRING 2015: UPA 680-75 Special Topics: Behavior & Environmental Sustainability (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
Students collaborated to present their ideas about how to promote mass transit ridership among people working in downtown Louisville to TARC and UofL Sustainability Council reps.
- FALL 2014: UPA 680-75 Special Topics: Urban Environments and Sustainability (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
Graduate students worked together throughout the semester to understand the factors that may be shaping use of alternative transportation in Louisville, and they also worked to create a survey that may be used (e.g., by the Partnership for a Green City and/or UofL's Sustainability Council) to assess psychological and social-ecological barriers to alternative transportation use.
- SPRING 2014: UPA 680-75 Special Topics: Behavioral Dimensions in Urban Sustainability (Professor Daniel DeCaro)
Students identified improving ridership of TARC as their course project and produced a final report and presentation for the UofL Sustainability Council.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Waste and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

COMPOST: In summer and fall 2015, 33 non-science-major students in a new Sustainable Community Engagement section of BIOL 104 - Laboratory for Introduction to Biological Systems run by Professor Linda Fuselier used the university’s Community Composting operations as an opportunity to study the biological processes of decomposition and factors associated with successful composting operations for organic waste streams from the campus and surrounding partners. Since July 2010, volunteers have been collecting food wastes for on-campus composting from some UofL Dining Service outlets, area coffee shops, residence halls, and other community sources, but this was the first time that the operation was used as a living lab for a class research project. Students were divided into small groups, each of which designed different experiments associated with various stages of the composting process from leaf litter piles to primary food waste composting bins to vermiculture bins to finished compost used as organic fertilizer in the campus’ Garden Commons raised beds.


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Water and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

RAINWATER MANAGEMENT: When UofL launched an extensive initiative in partnership with Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District to install new storm water management systems in 2011, it did so with an important campus as a living lab component. Student, faculty, and staff researchers from UofL's Center for Infrastructure Research installed monitoring equipment to study infiltration rates, storage capacity, and the performance of various infiltration basin designs on Belknap campus. Many traditional-looking parking lots, plazas and lawns across campus now conceal advanced storm water infiltration systems. Instead of draining to the combined sewer system, these areas drain to large underground infiltration basins capable of handling huge rainfall events and the water from surrounding rooftops. These designs were included in the following projects (with the square footage of impervious surface area mitigated in parentheses):
1. Ekstrom Library western lawn - completed in fall 2012, this infiltration system captures roof run-off from surrounding buildings (108,000 sf)
2. The UTA/Ville Grill plaza renovated in 2011. (14,550 sf)
3. The Red Barn plaza renovated in 2011. (4,120 sf)
4. The Grawemeyer Oval lawn renovated in 2011. (76,368 sf)
5. The College of Business parking lot renovated in 2011. (86,052 sf)
6. The parking lot behind Bettie Johnson Hall, the Urban Studies Institute, and University Planning, Design & Construction renovated in 2011. (67,629 sf)
7. The Speed Museum expansion project has been designed with a large infiltration basin beneath the plaza which will be able to handle roof drainage from Strickler Hall, Life Sciences, and the College of Business. (94,304 sf)
8. The new Student Recreation Center opened in October 2013 with an infiltration system that is larger than originally planned. It has a connected load that captures rainwater from most of the land surrounding Billy Minardi Hall as well. (317,115 sf).


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Coordination, Planning & Governance and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Diversity & Affordability and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

CERTIFICATE IN DIVERSITY LITERACY: The Certificate in Diversity Literacy provides a unique opportunity for students who have already earned bachelor’s degrees to enhance their knowledge and skills of the theory and practice of inclusion and equity, including what diversity means, what its personal and social effects are, and how it shapes lives, workplaces, and pedagogy. All students in the program are required to complete a Capstone in Diversity Literacy course in which students must conceive and develop a culminating project that advances diversity in each student's chosen field. Details at http://louisville.edu/philosophy/graduate-programs/copy_of_diversity-literacy-certificate

ALI SCHOLARS: The Ali Scholars Program, offered to full-time undergraduate University of Louisville students, is a unique two-year experience combining training, research and service in the areas of violence prevention, social justice and peacemaking in an urban living context. A special emphasis is placed on understanding and addressing the social conditions that impact those issues. Through their work with UofL's Muhammad Ali Institute, Ali Scholars develop expertise on a topic of their choice by participating in seminars with renowned practitioners, educators and activists. The Ali Scholars employ a practical solution-based approach as they produce scholarly research related to their “expert area” and its impact locally and globally. Equipped with a solid knowledge base and organizing skills, the Ali Scholars provide service hosting on-campus events, furthering the work of the Ali Institute and working alongside campus, local, national and international practitioners in their expert areas. Through the Ali Scholars program, students acquire both the intellectual and practical training to take action and leadership on issues of peace, violence prevention and social justice at home and abroad. Ali Scholars are expected to provide service to campus, local, national or international organizations and efforts related to peace and social justice. Details at http://louisville.edu/aliinstitute/the-ali-scholars

ANNE BRADEN INSTITUTE: UofL's Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research was founded in 2006 to honor the work and legacy of longtime racial justice organizer, educator and journalist Anne Braden. The Institute seeks to advance public understanding of the U.S. civil rights movement, both its powerful history and its unfinished agenda of racial and social justice. Our vision is that scholarship and activism inform and strengthen each other and sustain social justice locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Our mission is to bridge the gap between academic research and community activism for racial and social justice. To do so, we stimulate and support initiatives and programs that cultivate dialogue and cooperation between scholarship and activism. We focus on the modern African American freedom movement, other modern peace and social justice movements, and the intersections among racial, economic, gender, and wider social justice. Because the Institute’s work grows out of U.S. history, with its legacy of white supremacy, we see race/racism as central elements in all aspects of social justice in the United States. Our work aims at uncovering those connections and at the successful bridging of racial divides, with a special focus on the Louisville community and the U.S. South. Details at http://anne-braden.org/


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Health, Wellbeing & Work and the positive outcomes associated with the work:

GET HEALTHY NOW: UofL's employee wellness program, Get Healthy Now, offers students a variety of opportunities to use the campus population as a living laboratory for improving health and wellness. Through the program, students can enjoy an enriched academic experience while applying classroom knowledge in the real-world. Students are given hands-on opportunities to perform health and fitness assessments, develop health education programming, wellness coach, and create marketing materials. Participants gain practical and professional experience while networking with others in the field through: Wellness Coaching Internships and Externships; and Fitness Facility Internships; an Interdisciplinary Wellness Coaching Minor; and a Federal Work Study Program. Details at http://louisville.edu/gethealthynow/get-involved/student-opportunities

OFFICE OF HEALTH PROMOTION: The mission of UofL's Office of Health Promotion is to collaborate to build a campus community that promotes vitality, resilience, health and academic excellence. To achieve this goal, the Office employs professional and student staff as well as volunteers and interns in order to provide relevant, accurate and non-judgmental programs services, advocacy, peer mentorship and increased access to health-promoting options. The Office takes a data-driven approach to improving public health on campus and is constantly innovating, studying and evaluating the impact of interventions and campaigns. The Office works in close collaboration with the UofL Sustainability Council and the Get Healthy Now employee wellness program.
Details at http://louisville.edu/healthpromotion


A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Investment and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory for Public Engagement and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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A brief description of how the institution is using the campus as a living laboratory in Other areas and the positive outcomes associated with the work:
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The website URL where information about the institution’s campus as a living laboratory program or projects is available:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.